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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 8, 2022 01:27 PM
From: Representative Tracy Pennycuick
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing Clinical Studies for Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy (Previously Introduced as HB 1959)
***Previously Introduced as HB 1959***

In the near future, we will be introducing the attached legislation authorizing the clinical study of the efficacy and cost/benefit optimization of psilocybin-assisted therapy.

Total U.S. Federal and State government spending on traditional research and treatment for mental health and substance abuse likely exceeded $1 trillion from 2010-2019, but this did not stop the annual deaths of despair (including suicide, alcohol, and drug-related deaths) from climbing by more than 50 percent during the same period, from around 94,000 per year to almost 150,000 per year. That is 150 more deaths of despair every day. Our veterans have been particularly burdened by the ongoing mental health crisis, with the nationwide suicide rate of veterans 1.5 times that of non-veteran adults, and an estimated 20 veterans every day dying by suicide. 
It is the duty of the Commonwealth to protect the health of its residents and to determine and employ the most efficient and practical means for the prevention and suppression of disease. As traditional treatment has proven inadequate at both the individual and public health level, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to research alternative options.
A growing body of research provides a reason for hope that psilocybin, administered in a controlled setting, will be the most effective tool at our disposal to combat the suicide, opioid, and overall mental health crisis burdening the Commonwealth. Indeed, studies conducted by world renowned medical institutions indicate that psilocybin has shown efficacy, tolerability, and safety in the treatment of conditions including but not limited to addiction, depression, anxiety disorders, and end-of-life psychological distress. The United States Food and Drug Administration, based on the success of these studies, has granted a “Breakthrough Therapy” designation for use of psilocybin to treat depression, meaning it demonstrates substantial improvement over available treatments.
Given the broad range of conditions and symptoms for which psilocybin has proven highly safe and effective, the state of Texas recently passed a law (HB 1802) to study the efficacy of psilocybin to treat PTSD in veterans. However, despite the promise this treatment shows, federal law threatens to derail the potential public health benefit psilocybin-assisted therapy may provide by severely restricting the supply of psilocybin and driving up its costs via hyper-regulation.  
This legislation will thus authorize the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Health Research Advisory Committee, to contract with at least one academic research institution for the purpose of collecting and studying the efficacy and cost-benefit optimization of psilocybin and psilocybin-assisted therapy.  As part of this study, the department shall be required to submit interim reports to the General Assembly every 180 days and produce a final report by December 31, 2025.  The final report must include specified information, including the results of the clinical studies of psilocybin, an analysis of current state and federal laws, and recommendations to the General Assembly for legislative actions or other actions for the implementation of a regulatory system governing the use of psilocybin and psilocybin-assisted therapy.

This legislation is a revised version of current HB 1959 and is being submitted after input from stakeholders and interest groups with whom I have met and spoken to regarding this issue.  It is my hope that this study is the first step in learning more about the benefits of psilocybin and what can be done in the future for the citizens of this Commonwealth who are suffering from mental health conditions.
Please join us in cosponsoring this legislation, thank you.

View Attachment

Introduced as HB2421